Reuters is reporting that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn has died at his home near Moscow. He was 89.
Solzhenitsyn had the satisfaction of outliving the Soviet regime he criticized so often and so bitterly that, after the publication of one of his major works (The Gulag Archipelago) it stripped him of his citizenship and sent him into exile. But I never did manage to delve into his longer works--or at least I haven't yet. I do have a copy of August 1914 that I picked up a couple of years ago. But, as with so many other books on my shelves, I just haven't had the time to get around to reading it, what with the pressures of coursework and research (and family, and a full-time job...)
What captivated me in Solzhenitsyn's writing was the one book he managed to get published in the Soviet Union--with the explicit permission of Nikita Khrushchev, during the early phases of the latter's de-Stalinization campaign--One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. I first read that book (or at least excerpts from it), if memory serves, when I was in the sixth grade. My middle school was offering a not-for-credit elective in Russian at the time, and the teacher had us read it. I've since come back to it many, many times.
Methinks I'll go re-read it again.